Mountain Lion Miscellany

As a card-carrying member of the Apple Fanboy Brotherhood™ it’s my unspoken responsibility to write something nerdy about the Mountain Lion. And so here are a few of my favorite changes, updates, and nit picks which are to be found in OS X 10.8.

(My article about Mountain Lion and the simplification of OS X is here.)

In Safari

  • The blue progress bar that loads in the Address Field has a faded out right-hand edge instead of the sharp edge. Once the page has fully loaded the blue progress bar shoots across the remainder of the Omni Box and then it all fades out from dark blue to light blue to white. And since the “Reader” button is blue, it’s as if the loading bar fills the Reader button up with color.

    Interestingly, it was the animation of the blue loader that first attracted me to the Mac and OS X back in 2004. And even now it’s one of my favorite “little things” about the operating system.

  • The Syncing of iCloud Tabs is great. I only have one Mac so it’s currently of no use to me, but I’m very much looking forward to when it will sync my tabs across all my devices including my iPhone and iPad.

  • The RSS button in Safari is gone completely. If you come across a site and you want to subscribe to its RSS feed you’ll need to either have your own bookmarklet that adds the site to Google Reader or Fever, or the site will need a link to its RSS feed.

  • Click and hold on a bookmark’s name in the Bookmarks Bar and you get the option to rename it.

  • Rocking a lot of tabs? Do a pinch on the trackpad (or View → Show All Tabs) and all the tabs will turn into their own mini-window within the current window and you can scroll through them. It’s pretty great.

    Safari Tabs

Regarding Notification Center

  • Without some fine tuning Notification Center could prove to be a bit distracting. While I love the implementation from a design and functionality standpoint, I’ve found that more often than not the notifications waiting for me inside Notification Center are irrelevant by the time I look at them. If it’s not showing me emails I’ve already read then it’s showing me Tweets I’ve already seen, or calendar events that are already over. While I love the growl-like pop-up notifications, I think I’m still learning how to get the most out of Notification Center itself.

  • You can define a system-wide keyboard shortcut to show/hide Notification Center by going to: System Prefs → Keyboard → Keyboard Shortcuts → Mission Control → Show Notification Center.

  • You can also launch Notification Center from your trackpad by sliding two fingers onto the trackpad from the right-hand edge. And then, a two-finger swipe from left-to-right will hide Notification Center.

  • With Notification Center showing, if you scroll to reveal the top then you’ll discover a preference to not show notifications. When this is enabled, the icon fades to gray and all alert popups and banners are hidden. If a calendar reminder goes off while Notification Center is set to not show alerts and banners, then your Mac does not alert you to the event. You can also enable this by simply Option-clicking on the Notification Center icon in the Menu Bar.

  • Notifications for new emails only appear when Mail is running. So Notification Center doesn’t get new email messages on its own.

In Mail

  • New layout of the email message window: The date sent is in the top-right corner, next to an avatar of that person (If there is one. And since Mountain Lion can link your Contacts with their Twitter profile, you may start seeing some people’s email avatars as being the same as their Twitter avatars.).

  • Deleting an email takes you to the one below or above the current in-view message based on which way you were previously navigating the message list. I love having the next-below message come into view as, in my opinion, it’s better quickly processing through emails.

  • New options for emailing links from Safari: when you hit CMD+SHIFT+I to send the current web page you can send it as just a link, a PDF, the text-only version, or the whole website embedded within the email body. I always opt for just a link:

    Mailing a Web Page

AirPlay

The “Display Preferences” icon that used to sit in the Menu Bar has been changed from its old Cinema Display-like icon to the AirPlay icon found also in iOS.

With AirPlay you can now mirror your Mac’s display and audio to your Apple TV. However, the system sound only channels through the HDMI cable of the Apple TV. And so, if, like me, you have video piped to your TV via HDMI but audio piped to a separate sound system via the optical audio cable, then the sound system does not receive the audio signal when doing AirPlay mirroring from the Mac.

But fortunately, if you AirPlay a video using the iTunes option (found in the lower-right-hand corner of iTunes) then the audio will go through the optical audio port.

RIP: “iCal”

iCal is now called “Calendar”. If, like me, your LaunchBar habits die hard, did you know you can tell LaunchBar that you want “ic” to be the abbreviation for Calendar.app? Yeah. Just type “Calen” (or whatever it takes until Calendar is selected), then Control click on LaunchBar and choose “Assign Abbreviation”.

Assigning a Custom Abbreviation in LaunchBar

Contacts

  • The application formerly known as Address Book threw off the horrible page-turn functionality from Lion.

  • You can send someone an iMessage from within Contacts. I hope LaunchBar adopts this functionality. It’d be great to pull up someone’s contact info and then fire off an iMessage to them all from the keyboard.

    Sending an iMessage From the Contacts App

The Other Two New Apps

Believe it or not, I don’t use Reminders or Notes. I use OmniFocus and nvALT with Simplenote.

The Finder and Overall OS Miscellany

  • In a Finder window, if you choose to sort by kind, then your files and folders are, well, sorted by kind. And as you scroll, the file-type header stays at the top. Like in iOS when scrolling a list, such as Calendar and how the date sticks to the top until you scroll through to the next date and so on.

  • While downloading a file from Safari, you see a progress bar within the file icon itself and a time countdown:

    Downloading a File in Safari

    This in-context progress bar is for several things, such as transferring or copying files and folders.

  • A couple new Menu Bar icons: Notification Center and AirPlay. If you like to keep your Menu Bar as sparse as possible, Apple is making it an uphill battle.

  • The keyboard shortcut for “Save As” is back, but it’s different. Apple says: Use Command-Shift-Option-S to save a document using a different name and location.

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